"Would I ever lie to you Peggy?"
"I'll admit you're a truthful enough soul most of the time, but if you think that you are going to fool me wuth that nonsense you have another think coming!"
Bride stuck her tongue out at her sister, at this insult.
As if my beautiful face could tell a lie!" She paused to grin here, "and if you don't believe me you can ask young Maeve, for she was there too!"
Peggy groaned, "If Maeve was there, the tale will lose no excitement in telling, that young lass has far too much imagination! By tomorrow there will be flying pigs incorporated into the tale."
"I rather think she got your share Peg, you really are by far the most sensible member of this family. A little imagination wouldn't go amiss"
"Cheek!" but Peggy couldn't help but blush for she could remember several times when her imagination had more than carried her away. She had no intention of sharing these with Bride however.
"Peggy I promise you it's true, and my face must have been a picture when I heard him say it. How I kept calm I'll never know, probably because I had my hands full with Maeve and a tiny part of me kept reminding myself that I had to set a good-ish example or I really might have lost it."
Peggy looked skeptical "Are you sure you aren't exaggerating Bride? It's such a shame for Polly and Lala. They so wanted everything to be nice for him coming."
"Yes, well it was only Lala that heard, thank goodness. She may be as thoughtless as they come, but there's not an ounce of malice or temper in her I don't believe."
Peggy was not so optimistic. If heedless Lala knew, it was only a matter of time before Polly found out, and Polly certainly had a temper.
"I have to say, Peg, if Rix or Jackie had said such a ghastly thing about me I wouldn't have just sat there and taken it like Lala. Even you would have been roused Peggy." and with an ominous look on her face Bride Bettany returned to her book, with only the tiniest insight into the storms to come.
Eight hours earlier
As the Bettany's sat round the breakfast table there came a loud crash from above.
Peggy jumped at the sound, cracking her egg in a rather unconventional sense, and her mother was moved to wonder if there was a young hurricane raging upstairs.
Dick Bettany was despatched to find out the source of the noise, and the others were just returning to their breakfast when Dick came in, a grim expression on his face. Trying as he was to stop himself from laughing his voice came out several tones lower than usual fortunately this only served to make the children he had brought in after him quake in their shoes, although Mollie raised her eyebrows questioningly and received an almost inperceptible grin in return.
"What do you think I caught them doing?" he asked the table at large. His deceptively casual tones causing the second twins to squirm. Maurice shifted from foot to foot uneasily, and Maeve had the grace to look embarassed.
"They", and here he paused for effect, " had decided that conventional breakfast was not for them, and decided a picnic on the roof would be more fun!"
Here Mollie gasped.
"The crash you heard was them dragging the dresser out of the way so that they could get up to the attic."
"My dresser! The one Bridgie gave me?"
"Its alright dearest its in one piece, we just have to lift it back up the stairs."
Bride positively gurgled at this as she made the mistake of catching her brother Rix's eye. A glare from her mother quietened her however.
"Did you know that Thomas O'reilly had invited you over for tea this afternoon Maurice?"
Maurice's face dropped as he realised he was going to miss out on this treat.
"And Maeve, you three girls were to go over to the Wintertons..."
As Maeve remebered this she wished she had never thought of her wicked plan.
"It was really my idea Mother, Maurice just helped."
Maeve had a streak of honesty through her which would not allow her brother to get into trouble unfairly.
"Yes, i'm sure it was you Maeve, but Maurice helped, and willingly too. Now since this is only the third day of your holidays we will let you off, but next time don't think you will get off so lightly."
By now both twins had burning cheeks, and were wishing the floor would swallow them up.
However they refused to remain quashed for long, and it was a joyous party that set out that afternoon for the Wintertons.
Sadly, Peggy had been forced to remain in the house since she was suffering from a head cold, and she hadn't quite recovered yet. She had been quite disgusted at her fate, for like the others she had been longing to meet the missing Winterton- Giles, who had arrived only the day before.
So it was only Bride and Maeve that went, promising to bring back all the hanes for Peggy.
* * *
They were met at the door by an agitated Mrs Winterton. Mrs Winterton was never very capable, and if it wasn't for their father there is no doubt that Polly and Lala would have turned out very unruly.. Indeed there had been some danger of that up until a year or two ago.
Now with the arrival of her step son Mrs Winterton was somewhat nervous.
"Girls, the most awful thing has happned"
"Oh what?" asked Bride worried.
"Polly slipped down the stairs this morning and she seems to have dished her ankle, shes upstairs just now until Doctor comes, but if i'm not mistaken shes going to be bed- ridden for a few weeks."
"Oh poor Poll," murmured Bride, " I know she was really looking forward to this visit"
"Yeah and by the time she is up and about again it'll be time to go back to school!" chipped in Maeve, who could think of nothing worse than being stuck inside in her summer holidays.
"Would you like any help? We can come back another day if you prefer, " said Bride valiantly, as she tried to stave off her curiousity for the new visitor.
"Oh not at all girls, you must come in. Lala is dying to see you all, and im sure even Polly will want to see you later." suddenly she seemed to realise there was only two of them there, " Where is Peggy?"
"She has a slight cold, but she should be better soon." smiled Maeve.
"Well come in girls" she raised her voice, "Lala!!"
There was a mild crashing noise as Lala slid down the stairs to meet her guests.
"Bride, Maeve! Did you hear about Polly? She is an idiot, isnt she? She is absolutely raging!" said lala gleefully.
"Now do come through and meet my brother..."
Whatever Bride had been expecting it was not this for Giles Winterton was not like his sisters in either looks or character. He was tall and broad-shoulders, with sandy hair neatly brushed back, and grave gray blue eyes. His voice when he spoke was deep and serious, and Bride got the impression that he was a man of few words.
"Giles these are my friends Bride and Maeve", and Lala waved her hands in their general direction. Giles nodded at them solemnly but all he saw was two scraggy, young schoolgirls and he was moved to wish that his sisters wouldn't bring their friends round.
Bride had had an idea of asking him about his work and his life away from ths village, but his silence towards her put paid to that.
Lala smiled nervously.
"Alice, shall we go through for tea now? we really shouldn't keep Father waiting."
"Giles! I do wish you wouldn't call me that, and didn't Polly tell you- oh no of course she couldn't- Father can't make it back in time for tea. It shall just be us four i'm afraid." Lala indicated the others in the room, and groaning got to her feet from the comfortable chair she had been sitting in.
"Well I suppose we should be going through, coming Maeve?"
"Yes, Alice!" said naughty Maeve.
"Maeve!" said Lala anfrily, "I am warning you!" she laughed though.
All through the meal Bride found herself getting increasingly angry at Giles, who seemed to think he was being kind to condescend to eat with them. It was when they started talking about the school though that she really started to get furious.
"Giles, did you know that Bride's aunt is the founder of the school?" asked Lala in an effort to get Giles to join in.
"No" was his short answer.
"Well she is," said Lala persevering, "and their other aunt was the first pupil and she's the authoress Josephine M Bettany."
"I've never heard of her."
"Well" said Bride laughingly, "thats fair enough she mostly writes girls school stories."
Bride thought she heard him mutter "trashy" she glanced up and saw Lalas shocked face, and realised she had heard too. With some effort Bride said nothing. It would not do to lose her temper in fornt of Maeve.
"Do you think we will get much boating, when we go back?" asked Maeve suddenly changing the conversation.
"We should for at least a month, said Lala hopefully.
"Boating?" said Giles disapprovingly.
"Yes, why ever not?"
"They" and here he paused to look meaningfully at Lala, " are the result of a wild upbringing, it is not surprising if their school supports girls going out 'boating' and the like"
"Oh we go swimming as well" said Maeve indignantly, "I say Bride do you remember the greasy pole, and the tub races? Oh how funny you were when you tried at that." and despite the somewhat icy atmosphere Maeves clear laughter rung through the air.
Giles disapproval was obvious, and Bride was glad when the meal was over and they could go home.
Once back at the quadrant, and settled snugly in Peggy's small sitting room with her aunt Joeys latest novel, she proceeded to tell her sister of the eventful afternoon and her dire predictions for the rest of the summer holidays- which were starting to look extra gloomy if they were to be expected to stay in the company of Giles Winterton, whom Bride, quite justly it must be admitted, called a "Pompous ass!"